Swooping in the suburbs; parental defence of an abundant aggressive urban bird against humans

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Abstract

Masked Lapwings, Vanellus miles, often come into 'conflict' with humans, because they often breed in close proximity to humans and actively defend their ground nests through aggressive behaviour, which typically involves swooping. This study examined whether defensive responses differed when nesting birds were confronted with different human stimuli ('pedestrian alone' vs. 'person pushing a lawn mower' approaches to nests) and tested the effectiveness of a commonly used deterrent (mock eyes positioned on the top or back of a person's head) on the defensive response. Masked Lapwings did not swoop closer to a person with a lawn mower compared with a pedestrian, but flushed closer and remained closer to the nest in the presence of a lawn mower. The presence of eye stickers decreased (pedestrians) and increased (lawn mowers) swooping behaviour. Masked Lapwings can discriminate between different human activities and adjust their defensive behaviour accordingly. We also conclude that the use of eye stickers is an effective method to mitigate the human-lapwing 'conflict' in some, but not all, circumstances. © 2013 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

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Lees, D., Sherman, C. D. H., Maguire, G. S., Dann, P., Cardilini, A. P. A., & Weston, M. A. (2013). Swooping in the suburbs; parental defence of an abundant aggressive urban bird against humans. Animals, 3(3), 754–766. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani3030754

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